This brochure describes the flood
warning system operated by the Australian Government, Bureau of
Meteorology for the Daintree River. It includes reference information
which will be useful for understanding Flood Warnings and River Height
Bulletins issued by the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre during periods of
high rainfall and flooding.
The Daintree River catchment is located about 100 kilometres northwest of Cairns in far north tropical Queensland and drains an area of 2,125 square kilometres. The river rises in the Great Dividing Range, approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Daintree, the largest town within the catchment. It initially flows in a northerly direction, before turning southeast passing Daintree and finally entering the Coral Sea. Floods may develop quickly and with little warning from high rainfalls on the 1000 metre high mountain ranges around the catchment and are often caused by cyclonic influences in the adjacent Coral Sea.
The near record major flood of March 1996 caused widespread inundation of properties and roads throughout the lower reaches of the catchment. The rainfall station at Daintree Village recorded a total of 606 millimetres in the 24 hours to 9am 6th March.
Previous flood information for the Daintree River
catchment is limited, however, river height records are available from
the automatic river height station at Bairds, with continuous records
dating back to 1968.
The Bureau of Meteorology operates a flood warning system for the Daintree River based on a rainfall and river height observations network shown on the map.
The Douglas Shire Council, in conjunction with the Bureau of Meteorology operate an automatic flood warning station for the Daintree River at Daintree Village. This station regularly forwards automatic rainfall and river height data via satelite communications to the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre in Brisbane.
In addition to this station the automatic telephone telemetry station at Bairds (operated by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines), enables the Bureau's Flood Warning Centre to issue Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Daintree River during flood events. Qualitative flood forecasts are issued when moderate flood levels are likely to be exceeded at Daintree Village.
Douglas Shire Council may able to provide further information on flooding in your area of the Daintree River catchment.
Flood Warnings and Bulletins
The Bureau of Meteorology issues Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins for the Daintree River basin, regularly during floods. They are sent to radio stations for broadcast, and to local Councils, emergency services and a large number of other agencies involved in managing flood response activities. Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins are available via :
Internet/World Wide Web
Interpreting Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins
Flood Warnings and River Height Bulletins contain observed river heights for a selection of the river height monitoring locations. The time at which the river reading has been taken is given together with its tendency (e.g. rising, falling, steady or at its peak). The Flood Warnings may also contain predictions in the form of minor, moderate or major flooding for a period in the future. River Height Bulletins also give the height above or below the road bridge or causeway for each river station located near a road crossing.
One of the simplest ways of understanding what the actual or predicted river height means is to compare the height given in the Warning or Bulletin with the height of previous floods at that location.
The table below summarises the flood history of the Daintree River basin - it contains the flood gauge heights of the more significant recent floods.
[*] Height taken at an old gauge site and may not relate to flood levels from existing gauge sites
Historical flood heights for all river stations in the Daintree River Floodwarning network, as shown on the map, are available from the Bureau of Meteorology upon request.
At each flood warning river height station, the severity of flooding is described as minor, moderate or major according to the effects caused in the local area or in nearby downstream areas. Terms used in Flood Warnings are based on the following definitions.
Each river height station has a pre-determined flood classification which details heights on gauges at which minor, moderate and major flooding commences. Other flood heights may also be defined which indicate at what height the local road crossing or town becomes affected by floodwaters.
The table below shows the flood classifications for selected river height stations in the Daintree River catchment.
The above details are correct at the time of preparing this document. Up-to-date flood classifications and other details for all flood warning stations in the network are at:
Flood gauge information
For the latest rainfall and river height conditions please use the following link:
For the latest rainfall and river height network map please use the following link:Network maps
For further information, contact:
The Regional Hydrology Manager, Bureau of Meteorology, GPO Box 413, Brisbane Q 4001